June 14, 2010

Maybe It's Me: Erikson's "Identity vs. Identity Confusion," or, I Am The Center of My Universe and I Don't Give a Crap

To a certain extent, all teenagers (even the most non-stereotypical ones) are inherently self-absorbed; consumed with themselves and the world in which they perceive they exist in. This is mostly done on a subconscious level and it’s an attribute even more prevalent in girls. And this is by no means a negative connotation. They are not at fault for this natural characteristic; it’s par for the course during those beginning years of self-definition.

And it’s something we all go through as individuals defining ourselves.

There comes a point immediately following high school until about the mid-twenties where that self-obsession turns inward as we experience some harsh-realties that come with the territory of growing-up. We endure real heart break from love gone awry and shattered dreams; we become bogged down with an onslaught of adult responsibilities; and, we find ourselves heavily weighed under choices that aren’t always easy to make. Everything is being internalized as we try and figure out our roles as adults in the grand scheme of things (even if we don’t recognize that on such a profound level).

But life is one big circle, and there comes a point in our mid- to late-twenties when we become shamelessly re-self-absorbed. This time without pretense or concern about how we’re being perceived, we outwardly become engrossed in our own thoughts and interests, choosing in part to ignore that our words and actions impact others. Most of us, by then, have an idea of who we are and what we want to do with the life we were given, and are becoming and doing that without getting lost in the conformity of society. We are living comfortably in our skins and the world’s we’ve created for ourselves that we just don't have the time or energy to care about situations, statements, people, places or things who don't or aren't going to contribute to us or the fulfillment of our lives in an authentic, substantive, or positive way.

I have no problem admitting that I’m center of my world - and I know I'm not alone in this feeling.

I completely accept the fact that I'm self-absorbed, and I also recognize that it isn't a negative thing. Actually, it's quite healthy in my opinion. To understand what makes us happy and what doesn't; to acknowledge where we think our limits are in comparison to where they really are; and, by truly appreciation the things we that bring us joy, we can begin to eradicate all of the useless, meaningless, and trivial junk preventing us from being the best version of ourselves we were designed to be.

I’m carefully aware and practicing the concept of intimacy and solidarity vs. isolation for my social and psychological well-being. And I understand that there’s a fine line that exists between the two (and that sometimes that line is blurred, but it’s important to experience both sides of the concept), but as result I’ve run out of “give a care” for certain things. Among other things, I have absolutely no problem stating my opinion to people I don't agree with. Or declaring my lack of tolerance for people with agendas I don't support or subscribe to. Or asserting my disgust in choices, attitudes, or injustices I don't believe in.

I have a voice. And I'm going to use it. I think it’s an important tool in self-definition and in the delicate balance of protecting ourselves as the center of our universes (after all, there’s nothing worse than relinquishing our lives to let someone else run it and make choices for us – I’ll keep singin’ it ‘til my very last breath: we are the main character of our life’s story; we are not part of the supporting cast!

It’s okay with me if another person and I don't see eye to eye, because they’re making choices that they think are the right one’s for them. These could be the completely wrong choices for me. And as long as they don’t try to preach their lifestyle choices to me (i.e., “You’re going to go nowhere if you don’t go back to college.” I’d rather be living my life than hiding from the real world behind the façade of being a life-long college student; or, “You should be married by now.” More than half of all the marriages in the world end in divorce, especially those that start so young. I’ve got the rest of my life for that; or, “Renting an apartment is such a waste of money, you really need to invest in a home.” I like having a landlord come and fix my broken stuff and shovel me out of a winter storm. I love that I’m not committed to this place for the next thirty years of my life, only for the next thirty days.)

My set of life and self standards, likes and dislikes, values and mores are, at this point, established for life. It’s healthy to agree to disagree. I don’t have to stand for or give a crap about stuff that goes against me and what I’ve worked so hard at becoming. And life really is too short to be concerned about conforming to the rest of the world. Especially if that contradicts ourselves in any capacity – we work long and hard at getting to and becoming ourselves, why in the world would we compromise something so beautiful?